L’Ape musicale  

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Scene 3

[6 or 7 years later. The Del Mar apartment. Alma is sitting at the kitchen table paying bills. We hear a truck out back. Ennis, just back from a fishing trip with Jack, comes around the corner and climbs stairs to apartment. He is carrying tackle box, net, rod case. He is singing his little song, in a good mood. Enters.]

ENNIS

Hey Alma. [Looks around.] Where are the girls?

ALMA

At Nana’s. I asked her to take them tonight so I can talk to you.

ENNIS

[Stiffens up. Does she know? Wary and uptight]

What about?

ALMA

About you gettin a decent job.

What I make at Bill’s store don’t hardly keep us.

What you make don’t hardly pay for the clothes you ruin.

I want you to get out from ranch work.

Bill’s brother is high up with the power company and there is an openin for a lineman.

The pay is good, good benefits, they provide a uniform.

ENNIS

Lineman! Uniform!

Tell Jones to mind his own business. Why can’t anybody leave me be?

I like ranch work, I like livestock, I like horses. I told you that before we got married.

You ever hear that money ain’t everything?

ALMA

With you it ain’t ANYthing.

The girls want the things their friends have. They’re smart, and pretty soon they’ll be in high

school. Maybe go to college. Where’s the money goin to come from?

ENNIS

I just walk in the house and you dump all this on me.

ALMA

Well, sure, you’re all rested up from your nice fishin trip with your buddy, ain’t you? Catch any fish? Must be nice, take a little weekend vacation. Seems like you go fishin pretty often. It don’t seem fair, you go off with your friend and I sit here. Do you think that’s fair?

ENNIS

[Senses the animosity in Alma’s tone, seizes on the question about fish.]

That’s what we lived on. Fish for breakfast, dinner and supper.

ALMA

[not to be diverted]

Do you think that’s fair, you goin off on these little trips?

ENNIS

No. No, I don’t. But you don’t like fishin or campin.

ALMA

I sure do not.

I would like to go to Casper or Cheyenne or Billings,

go to the movies, eat out, see different people and different houses and sidewalks.

Do somethin different. This is a terrible life.

ENNIS

I’m sorry, Alma.

I wish I liked goin to town and the movies.

I wish I made more money. I wish I was different.

You don’t know how bad I wish I was different.

ALMA

I been standin it, but I can’t stand it forever. Won’t you try for that job?

ENNIS

No. We got fence work next week. Then drive the cows up to the high pastures. And then...

ALMA

[to the ceiling, long-suffering]

You are backing me into a corner, Ennis. I mean it.


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